This evocative book takes us back through a time-machine, into the world in which the expatriate community, mainly western, lived in the quintessentially Chinese Peking in the early 20th century, immediately following the 1900 Boxer Uprising, right up to the 1949 triumph of the Communist regime and China’s Liberation. It provides a neat counterpoint to the flood of recent writing on China, showing us through the eyes of foreign residents the real distance the country has traversed. We see in such an account the tribulations suffered by the Chinese people at the hands of multiple, competing colonizing powers, often working with the country’s indigenous warlords. The book illustrates the point that modern China makes, that this experience was many times worse than what transpired in countries that came under the rule of a single colonial power.
April 2013, volume 37, No 4